Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters; no infringement is intended. Please note that this story is based on the movies only. I have not read the books; I found them hard to get through. The movies, however, were excellent. So please don't point out any consistency errors with the books; this is based only on the "Return of the King" movie. Hope you enjoy it!
"I'm here, Sam."
The fires of Mount Doom swelled beneath the hobbit called Frodo. Light spilled from the wide open doorway far behind him; but it did no good: smoke billowed from all directions, wrapping Frodo and the figure behind him in a thick black fog. Wind howled and swept through the chasm with the force of a thousand charging oriphaunts. Lava flowed, a hundred yards beneath the thin walkway that the two hobbits were standing on, churning and bubbling in a mighty orange force.
Frodo parted his shirt collar and lifted a necklace from around his neck. Dangling on the end of it was a tiny ring: The One True Ring, the driving force behind all of the evil and horror in Middle Earth. It twinkled innocently at him in the light from the lava, swinging on the end of its chain gently, as Frodo looked directly at it.
"Toss it in, Mr. Frodo!"
The hobbit Sam's shouted words came through to Frodo like a blow to his flesh. Frodo relaxed his grip on the chain a little, but it did not slip out of his hand.
The Ring was calling to Frodo.
Frodo was in a daze as he stared fiercely at the Ring. It swung, like a pendulum, back and forth, back and forth. It was whispering to Frodo. Frodo could not toss it in. He needed it. There was no telling what would happen if the Ring expired in the fires of Mount Doom.
Frodo was breathing fiercely. The Ring was not asking him now, it was ordering him — he must put it on. He must not destroy it. Frodo resisted, trying to slip it out of his hand — the chain was growing hot —
The Ring's power swelled —
"What are you waiting for!"
Frodo could no longer hear Sam's shout. The real Frodo was lost under layers of evil and hate as something much deeper in the Hobbit's mind took over. The Ring feasted on this new power, feeding on it, and Frodo turned to face the stunned Sam —
Samwise stared at Frodo.
"The Ring is mine."
And as Sam looked on, Frodo brought the necklace's chain to his other hand and yanked; the necklace broke from the ring and flew out of Frodo's hand into the fiery chasm below.
Sam was in a daze. This was not happening — it couldn't be happening —
Frodo was slipping the Ring onto his hand — it was inches, no, millimeters away — nearer and nearer it crept to his finger —
Sam screamed. "NO!" But it did no good; Frodo was now invisible and Sam was at his mercy — no — Sam was at the mercy of the Ring. There was no hope for Frodo — but Sam had to try anyway — he had to —
And then something hard crashed into Sam's head, and he fell to the ground. Revealed to be standing behind him, a wicked expression on his face, was the creature Gollum, grinning evilly as he stared at the spot where Frodo had vanished.
There were footprints — they were appearing on the ground — Master was trying to get away —
"NO!" Gollum screeched, launching himself off the ground, and the little creature made contact with thin air. Gollum grabbed at it, clutched at it, and as he wrestled with the air he realized that he was on Master's shoulders — Master was bucking wildly, trying to throw Gollum off — his screams and harsh grunts came from nowhere —
But the little creature did not care, and he held on firm as the Ring called to the Gollum part of his mind — Sméagol, like Frodo, had been buried under the powers of the Ring, and what it had done to their minds — and Gollum, instead of trying to continue wrestling with Master, had a better idea.
He felt around for Master's left shoulder, found it, and let his hands slide down it until they made contact with Master's own hand — Gollum was laughing — he grabbed Master's wildly struggling fingers and felt them —
And there was the Ring, on Master's left index finger. Gollum tried to grab it, to slide it off, but it was hot to the touch — it was stuck on Frodo's finger — Gollum wrestled with it — and the Ring whispered to him a suggestion —
The creature Gollum grabbed his Master's finger, wrenched it, twisted it, brought it up to his mouth — Gollum mashed it between his teeth — bit down hard — and with an almighty CRUNCH and a blood-curling scream, Master appeared out of thin air, howling with pain and rage as he fell to the ground and Gollum slid off his shoulders.
Master was clutching his left hand. There was something missing from Master's left hand. He was screaming horribly — his hand was bleeding — it was missing its index finger, having instead only a bleeding knuckle, a bloody stub —
But Gollum had Master's finger, he had it in his mouth — he spat it out, relished the taste of the blood — he tossed Master's finger aside, and down it sailed to join the necklace in the lava —
Gollum had it. He did. He had the precious — the little creature brought it up to his eyes, all the better to see it glisten in the light of the lava — he had it — it was his — it was shining in his palm — the Gollum part of his brain was laughing evilly, laughing in joy and triumph —
At first he didn't realize what had happened, but then he remembered — where was Frodo? There he was, on the ground, clutching his bleeding hand — bleeding? Where was the Ring? And then Sam saw the evil little creature behind the screaming Frodo — it was holding the Ring high above its face, a face that was shining in delight and celebration —
"YES!" Gollum shouted.
"YES! YES! YES! Precious, precious, precious..." the little creature sang at the top of his lungs — the Gollum part of the creature was leaping in the air to dance to his little song, leaping with a wild, evil happiness —
Frodo was struggling to his feet —
Sam shouted, stood up, called to Frodo, tried to start toward him, but the Ring was still calling to Frodo, and Frodo only had eyes for Gollum — eyes that were screwed up in pain but now narrowed to slits as the Ring called to him to get his revenge —
Frodo started toward Gollum, and Gollum, still leaping with joy, did not yet see him. Sam was running after Frodo, but he was too far away, he would never get there in time — all the while the stalking figure that was Frodo was getting closer and closer to the thin little creature in front of him —
"FRODO!" Sam bellowed with all his might, anything to stop him —
Frodo halted, for a split-second; now that he was not in contact with the Ring it had less control over him — and something about Sam's yell cracked through the evil shell that the Ring had carved over Frodo —
Sam. Friendship. Trust. Loyalty. Courage. Faith.
The memories of all of Frodo's friends came flooding back to him, and with all that, came two clear sentences —
"What are we holding onto, Sam?"
"That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo."
Frodo had not moved; his arm was still hanging in the air, still ready to push the still celebrating Gollum off into the lava — but no — no —
Frodo's head spun —
This little creature was not Gollum. He was Sméagol. The Ring had corrupted him, blinded him as it had Frodo — Sméagol had as much right to live as Frodo — he had not been himself when he had attacked Frodo — the Ring was causing all this —
And Frodo started forward again, only this time he was aiming for the little creature's hand, where the Ring was still resting — Gollum turned around and before his eyes had time to widen in shock, Frodo was upon him, wrestling with his hand, trying to wrench the Ring out of it, trying to thrust it into the lava below —
Sam was running — he wouldn't make it — he was feet away from them —
Frodo and Gollum wrestled with the Ring —
And toppled over the side of the cliff —
Frodo's injured hand flew through the air — made contact with the edge — Frodo hung on with all his might, ignoring the white-hot pain shooting through his knuckle — and his other hand found Sméagol's as he fell — Frodo grabbed on — Sméagol held tight —
The Ring whistled through the air as it tumbled downward, unnaturally slowly, making its descent to the hellish lava bubbling below...
Sam looked down, over the edge of the cliff — Frodo was there, he had not fallen, and he was clutching the hand of that little creature — Sam thought only of getting Frodo to safety, he fell to his knees and thrust his own hand over the side —
"Grab my hand, Mr. Frodo!"
But Frodo did not; he watched, spellbound, as the Ring continued its descent — finally it fell into the lava —
The Ring was still there, floating as though the lava were a fabric — it was not disintegrating, and Frodo saw a light shoot out of it, a blinding light, in the forms of words written in Elvish...
One Ring to rule them all.
One Ring to find them.
One Ring to bring them all,
And in the darkness bind them.
"Grab my hand, Mr. Frodo!" Sam bellowed again, and once again he managed to crack through Frodo's shell — Frodo tore his eyes away from the Ring and gazed at the hand that Sam was offering him...
But how could he grab it? One hand was clutching the rock, and one was clutching Sméagol's own hand ... if he tried to grab Sam's one or both of them would fall...
As if to answer his question, Sam wordlessly lowered his own hand until it was right beneath Frodo's.
"Grab my hand," Sam whispered again.
And Frodo let go, wrenched his injured hand from the rock, and as he dropped his hand found Sam's — Sam was holding on, not letting go, and pulling Frodo and Sméagol up from over the side with all his might...
Frodo's feet were scraping the bare rock — he climbed up, over the side, and pulled Sméagol over as well — they had done it, they were safe — the little creature was crawling on the ground on his hand and knees and suddenly fell down on his stomach, gasping, until at last he was able to get up onto his hands and knees, and he looked up at Frodo and Samwise —
"Master, master..." Sméagol began...
But there was not time to go any farther, for at that precise moment a huge beam of light erupted from under the cliff — the trio scrambled to the side to look over the edge and saw the Ring — it was finally crumbling — the lava had finally gotten through to it and it was disintegrating into powder until finally every last trace of it had gone.
For a moment, nothing moved.
Then suddenly, as though waiting for a signal, there was a huge, horrible, ear-piercing shriek from outside — Frodo looked through the wide doorway, so far away, and saw the huge Eye of Sauron swelling and bursting with pain, with agony, with every hateful emotion possible ...
But this was nothing compared to what was going on inside of Mount Doom, for Sméagol had suddenly hurled himself to the floor again — he was crying out — shrieking in agony — he turned over onto his back and his chest buckled and heaved — a hole opened up in it —
And out of the gaping red hole in Sméagol's chest rose a ghostly version of himself, but this version had its face twisted in hate and evil — it was on four legs, hunched over, the bones of its spine showing clearly in its thin back — it twisted around to face all three of them, its eyes glowing red in sheer madness...
The transparent creature that was the five-hundred-year-old Gollum lunged for them, but before it could make a single move its flesh began falling off ... the ghost looked at itself in horror as white showed through and the wispy hairs on its scalp shrunk to nothing ... its hands were nothing but transparent bone; its eyes were shriveling and decaying...
Gollum's flesh had finally melted away and he was bone, blood and muscle; the ghostly blood flowed out from among the tangle and pooled on the ground; the muscles shrunk to nothing, and finally nothing was left of Gollum but transparent, writhing bone...
And as Frodo, Sam and Sméagol looked on in horror, the bones, too, began to crumble into translucent dust and powder; the creature that was Gollum was finally fading away until nothing was left but the pool of blood and a fine powder that drifted down to the earth. And finally that too faded and vanished; and as the Ring had been destroyed, so, too, had Gollum — the dark side of Sméagol — been destroyed.
Sméagol, eyes wide open in horror, lay still on the ground as the hole in his chest closed, leaving no trace; his breathing was quick and shallow and he whimpered wheezily as the entirety of Mount Doom began to shake and tremble.
Looking outside, Frodo saw that the Eye of Sauron continued to writhe and pulse, shaking everything around it; until finally the pressure was too much for the building supporting the Eye and the structure collapsed, just as the Eye performed its last deed and sent out a huge shock wave that began hurtling across the countryside —
Suddenly Frodo's heart stopped — the shock wave was headed their way...
"Come on, Mr. Frodo!" Sam shouted, heaving Frodo to his feet — but Frodo could not leave Sméagol behind — he was weak — Frodo grabbed him and slung his arm over his shoulders, nearly collapsing from the weight — Sam grabbed Frodo's shoulders in turn, supporting him, and together the three of them bolted —
The huge volcano was crumbling, the earth outside shaking hugely; the pathway on which the threesome were running was falling away from beneath their feet as they ran toward the large doorway, hoping against hope that they would make it — the door was feet away — they were almost there — but the crumbling ground was rushing up to meet them —
Frodo felt it before he saw it. The rushing lava had weakened the walkway on which they were running, and his feet were treading shaky ground — he knew that if he fell, they all would — and so he hoisted Sméagol's arm off his shoulder and shoved him and Sam forward —
Sam spun around like a top through the doorway and fell through onto the gravel below, but Sméagol was not yet there — and instead of fleeing to the door, he turned around just to see the ground crumble underneath Frodo's still running feet — the Hobbit began to fall —
Sméagol thrust his hand forward and grabbed Frodo's arm. "Master — come —"
And with an almighty tug, Sméagol wrenched the Hobbit's arm forward so that Frodo was now in front — Sméagol shoved him from behind, muttering, "Time to go now, oh yes yes yes, time to go..."
They were through. Mount Doom was behind them and they were still running, catching up to Sam — the sharp rocks below cut their feet as they veered sharply away from the shaking volcano, and not a second too soon. Hot lava burst out of the doorway, flooding the place — it was headed for the three of them — they needed to find high ground —
Together, Sam, Frodo and Sméagol continued running until they finally found a rock that they thought would support them. Climbing high on it to avoid the poisonous lava, Frodo, Sam and Sméagol watched as the flow increased until their rock was little more than an island in a sea of orange and black.
Sam was in shock. For such a long time had he thought that this little creature was not their ally. And now he had revealed himself as a friend; he had saved Frodo's life and had no evil left in him now that the Ring was finally gone...
Speech, for a moment, was not an option for any of them, least of all Sméagol. Instead he noticed how the journey had aged Frodo — when Sméagol had first seen Frodo, following him and his Fellowship, he had seemed relatively young. But now, here before him, a dirty, exhausted Hobbit who had aged twenty years in twelve months gazed down at him with eyes that had seen entirely too much.
At last Sméagol found some words. "Master — what — why..."
Frodo held up a hand to stop him, and Sméagol noticed with a huge jolt of shame that this hand was still bleeding, missing a certain finger that Sméagol himself had wrenched off, and that the Gollum part of him had enjoyed the taste of the blood ... Frodo did not seem to be holding a grudge, however ... and after a moment, he lowered his hand, and looked Sméagol directly in the eyes.
"You call no one 'Master', Sméagol."
And it was here that Frodo communicated so much as he looked straight into Sméagol's eyes. Without any other words being said, Sméagol found that he knew how Frodo understood what the Ring had done to both of them, how they had saved each others' lives, and how life must go on. And Sméagol also now knew that Frodo considered him an equal, andwanted all thoughts of "Master" forgotten — and how any regrets that the journey into Mount Doom had caused must also now be forgotten.
At last Frodo held out his good hand. Sméagol looked at it for a moment, and then, as though not used to such behavior, extended his own hand and they shook.
When they had let go, Frodo looked over at Sam, who had been watching this with some surprise, and raised his eyebrows. Sam understood, and turned to Sméagol too. For a long time nothing was said. Then finally Sam uttered a single word...
There was silence for a moment; then, faintly —
"For what?" Sméagol asked, somewhat confused.
"For — well — everything. You got us into Mordor, you were our guide, and you helped us with the whole thing in Mount Doom..."
And after another moment, Sam too held out his hand, and again Sméagol extended his own and they shook.
After that, things faded in and out of Frodo's memory. He remembered sitting with Sam and talking quietly, discussing the Shire, its green grasses, its friendly villagers, and how Sméagol would like being there ... Frodo remembered thinking of the Shire, and knowing in his heart that he could not go back to the way life once was ... He remembered finally realizing the Ring was gone, and that it was all over, but this thought didn't seem to affect him or Sam that much ... Frodo remembered curling up for a short sleep, noting that Sam and Sméagol were doing the same... He remembered soaring through the air, although he couldn't remember why or how ...
And the next thing he knew, Frodo was lying in a remarkably warm and comfortable bed and an ancient, friendly face was looking kindly upon him.
No ... it couldn't be ...
"Gandalf?" Frodo cried increduously.
The old wizard smiled and nodded his head.
It was then that Frodo did something that he had almost forgotten how to do — his face broke into a huge smile, the first true smile he had worn in months, and Frodo laughed with joy, hardly noticing the faint scars along his face or his taped hand ... he was here, he was home, he was with one of his oldest friends ...
And there was Sam, and Merry, and Pippin, and Legolas and Gimli and Aragorn and everyone else that Frodo held dear, come to see him one last time before going off on their separate ways. This was it, it was done, the Ring was gone and Frodo was finally home...
There was one other person standing in the doorway, but he was in the shadows and watching nervously, as though afraid to come in himself. Frodo looked up, still grinning, and saw him, and beckoned him in.
Sméagol stepped into the room, and as he did so the light fell upon him, revealing him draped in Hobbit clothes and looking ... different, somehow. True, he wasn't as thin and raggly as he once was, but this Sméagol was a completely new person ... Sméagol was experiencing a sensation that he had long forgotten...
It was the happiness of having a friend. Several friends, as it were, for Sam had told the others of what had happened in Mount Doom, how Gollum was gone for good and Frodo and Sméagol had saved each others' lives ...
And Sméagol joined in the celebration, and Frodo looked straight at him, still grinning —
At this Sméagol's face broke into a grin too, and it was a wild, happy grin that lit up his features and made him unrecognizable for the Gollum that he once was. He had put that behind him now, and it was all over... all of it...
All of it was over.
Frodo lived a long life. He left the Shire about five years after his journey, preferring instead to travel with Gandalf the wizard. Where he had gone, nobody knew for sure, but one thing that every Hobbit in the Shire was certain of was that through thick and thin, through every situation possible, Frodo's friend Sméagol had remained by his side (and helped him out of a couple of tight spots!). His friendship with Frodo, like Sam's, had remained strong in the Shire, and such was their inseperability that he, too, traveled with Frodo on Gandalf's mysterious ship. Through legend and the book that they together had written, the world would know of the story of Frodo, Sam and Sméagol, and how they had each lived happily ever after, to the end of their days.